Solar Impulse aims to push innovation on the ground

More Solar Innovation: Stanford’s Peel and Stick Flexible Application

Kennedy International Airport is host to one unique airplane: the Solar Impulse. The sun-powered plane made history by becoming the first aircraft to fly across America day and night without fuel. The Solar Impulse finished its two-month journey from NASA’s Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif. to JFK airport on July 6, where it is currently parked. Solar Impulse Solar Impulse’s model HB-SIB is the second-generation aircraft that took the cross-country trip. The aircraft is powered by 11,628 solar cells, has an average flying speed of about 43 miles (70 kilometers) per hour and its maximum altitude is about 27,900 feet.
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Space probe sees solar system’s tail

Solar-cell makers and their champions love to talk about a similar Moores law for solar, but the physics of the situation argues against this. Yes, since 1985, solar-cell prices have dropped by roughly a factor of four, but during that same period, Moores law slashed the price of computational power by a factor of at least 130,000. Better Technology Ahead Solar cells being deployed today convert into electricity just 10 percent to 15 percent of the solar energy that strikes them. Laboratories have made cells that can reach 40 percent efficiency , a level where things start to get interesting. But these advanced cells are expensive and tricky to make. A lot more R&D must be done before they can be produced cheaply and in volume.
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Introducing Veriown Energy Inc. and Veriown Innovation Center

Not only are they’re working with Fraunhofer to develop silicon coatings, they have already developed the ENLIGHT( TM ) encapsulant film that: – Help extend the service life of modules because the films have significantly better electrical properties and improved moisture resistance. – Allow panel manufacturers to potentially increase yield and capacity by reducing lamination cycle times by up to 30 percent. [ Marketwatch ] This isn’t stuff that’s in the lab, Dow already has two plants (one in the US, the other in Thailand) producing the stuff and a third one (in Germany) under construction. New Energy Technologies SolarWindow Technology The US start-up company has developed what must be the ultimate in flexible, lightweight solar cells, ‘spray-on’ photovoltaic windows, materials that can be sprayed on windows which: is so effective as to harvest light even from northern exposure, and indeed even from indoor fluorescent lighting… It puts energy harvesting everywhere. [ Technology Review ] The spray dramatically simplify the thin film manufacturing process Solar cells that are currently available are largely made of silicon wafers, an expensive and brittle material that can limit their commercial usability. Other newer generation, lower-cost, flexible thin film solar materials such as amorphous silicon, copper-indium-gallium-selenide, and cadmium telluride, often require high-vacuum and high-temperature production techniques, and are many times thicker than New Energy’s ultra-small solar cells. This generally limits the application of such thin films primarily to stainless steel, an expensive substrate material with limited prospects of delivering transparency. [ New Energy Technologies ] There are more advantages as the spray is transparent so it’s prime use is intended for windows (hence “SolarWindow”).
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of real estate globally. Also announced today was the creation of the Veriown Innovation Center (VIC), a joint partnership of Veriown and CogniTek Management Systems ( CogniTek ), which will commercialize a number of patents and R&D assets focused on developing and commercializing distributed generation technologies that allow for 24/7/365 energy without the need for subsidies. Further announcements about the specific technologies will be released over the next few months. The Veriown Innovation Center is a strategic partnership that marries the large portfolio of distributed generation breakthrough technologies of CogniTek with Veriowns ability to scale, maximize global corporate relationships, and utilize proven leadership in developing next generation businesses, said Johanns. Michael Gurin, CEO of CogniTek , will be Chief Technology Officer of VIC. Sean Murdock, founder of NanoSonix, will be Chief Strategy Officer. According to research by Navigant, the renewable distributed energy generation (RDEG) market will experience strong growth over the next several years, with total system revenues increasing from $50.8 billion in 2009 to $154.7 billion by 2015. During this period, the annual RDEG capacity additions will increase from 5.9 gigawatts (GW) in 2009 to 15.1 GW in 2015.
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Energy Subsidies Stymie Wind, Solar Innovation: Nathan Myhrvold

In fact, global LED lighting sales grew from $2.7 bn in 2008 to $9.4 bn in 2011. Thats what happens with good technologies. They get mainstreamed for reasons other than the environmental benefits alone. Kurzweil is onto something. Growth in solar has been spectacular. But so far its been on rooftops and in large filed-mounted arrays. The next area where solar may make huge gains is integration into the skin of buildings, what is know as Building Integrated Photovoltaics, or BIPV. A recent report from Pike research see BIPV growing from just over 400 MW in 2012 to 2,250 by 2017, with annual value increasing from just over $600 mn to $2.4 bn. In the future, BIPV will no longer be confined to spandrel or overhead applications.
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Solar Innovation Marches On (Part IV)

Rosetta is on its way to study Comet 67-P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. On June 8, 2011, Rosetta was placed in hibernation. It will wake up when it reaches the comet in mid-2014, when it will drop a small lander onto the comet’s surface. One of the most famous comets is Hale-Bopp. It was discovered independently on July 23,1995, by Alan Hale in New Mexico and by Thomas Bopp in Arizona. It was one of the brightest comets in decades and was visible to the naked eye for several months. Comet Lovejoy stunned scientists in December 2011 when it flew through the hot atmosphere of the sun and emerged intact.
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California is a leader on solar power, Environment California says

UPDATE 3-EU, China resolve solar dispute – their biggest trade row by far

California is among a dozen states that have excelled through political will and public policy at producing solar power and should be examples for others on how to shift to renewable energy, according to a report released Tuesday by the group Environment California. The Dazzling Dozen states account for only 28 percent of the U.S. population but 85 percent of the nations installed solar electricity capacity, concluded the study conducted by the Frontier Group and Environment America Research & Policy Center. The report found that California leads the nation in cumulative solar electric installations. It had the sixth highest cumulative capacity per resident and, along with states including Arizona, Colorado and New Jersey, possess strong policies that are enabling increasing numbers of homeowners, businesses, communities and utilities to `go solar, ” the report said. The report singled out New Jersey for its decision in 2004 to commit the state to generating 2.1% of its electricity from the sun by 2021. That state created a system in which utilities compensate homeowners and businesses for every unit of solar electricity they generate, the report said.
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Why Hawaii Just Became An Even Better Market For Solar

Winter Park now gets almost all its electricity at about the same price from the burning of natural gas, which, unlike solar, creates greenhouse gas emissions. Clean Footprint will pay the cost of building the array, and the city can cancel the deal at fixed points during the term. Jerry Warren, director of Winter Park’s electric utility department, said some residents wanted a non-polluting power source. “For the customers that care about sustainability, I’ve scored a victory for them,” Warren said. Warren predicted that power from the array will start flowing early next year. The initial output will be tiny, with the 2.25-megawatt facility able to power 22,500 100-watt light bulbs at the same time. But although it will be able to supply only 0.6 percent of the city’s energy needs, Warren said he views it as an experiment that could open the door to more production as the utility becomes more comfortable working with solar. For the moment, solar is limited because it produces power only under sunny conditions. Clouds, summer storms and nightfall make it impractical as a principal source of energy. John Porter, a managing partner of Clean Footprint, said he expects that technological improvements such as better batteries to store power produced during the day for use at night and decreasing costs will make solar more viable in the years ahead. “I think people are going to start seeing solar as a part of the fabric of our community,” said Porter, whose company is headquartered in Cape Canaveral. The Winter Park project is the biggest that the two-year-old company has undertaken.
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Wind, the ‘workhorse’ of renewable energy

Panel and system manufacturers are looking for ways to grow earnings, and one likely new revenue source is energy storage. According to Elsaesser, the PV industry expects to boost revenue by $10 billion by 2017 globally with storage. The PV industry needs to look for future profit pools, Markus Hoehner, founder of the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA), said at an Intersolar briefing. When we look at the PV industry on the global level, most of it was feed-in tariff driven. It was about IRR [internal rate of return], making money out of the PV system. Now, due to the downturn in the feed-in tariff markets, and due to the much lower system cost, were talking about saving money. Homeowners in markets with high retail electricity rates, he said, are looking to shield themselves from rising energy costs with storage. Take the example of Germany. Matthias Vetter, a researcher with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), who also spoke at the briefing, said that he pays 26 euro cents ($0.34) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for grid electricity in Germany. A [rooftop PV] system owner who has installed 10 years ago, like my father, he gets, still, 55 euro cents [$0.77] per kilowatt-hour, he said. He never comes to the idea that he will install storage. But for German homeowners who install a new rooftop PV system, the financial incentives look very different. After a series of scheduled reductions, the feed-in tariff rate for rooftop PV now pays 14 euro cents ($0.18)/kWh, according to Hoehner.
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Foster’s Solar-Skinned Buildings Signal Market Tripling: Energy

Low-income homeowners may not be able to qualify for a conventional loan to invest in solar. And non-profits arent directly eligible to take advantage of solar tax credits. Senate Bill 1087 , which Gov. Abercrombie signed on June 27, makes solar photovoltaic systems, as well as solar thermal water heaters and big-ticket energy efficiency upgrades, available to all these underserved customers by eliminating the thorny issue of the upfront costs. On-bill financing enables residential or commercial property owners or renters to avoid the initial out-of-pocket expense to install energy improvements. Upgrades are instead financed with loans paid back via a line item on the customers monthly utility bill.
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Solar power to meet energy needs of Delhi Secretariat

2 economy, a majority of EU governments – led by Germany – opposed the plan, which led to the compromise deal. “We found an amicable solution,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said. “I am satisfied with the offer of a price undertaking submitted by China’s solar panel exporters,” he said, referring to the minimum price for China’s imports. Chinese Commerce Ministry Spokesman Shen Danyang welcomed the deal, hailing a “positive and highly constructive outcome”. An EU diplomatic source said that in the solar agreement, the agreed price was 0.56 euro cents per watt, near the spot price for Chinese solar panels in July in Europe, according to solar exchange pvXchange. Under the terms of the deal, China will also be allowed to meet about half Europe’s solar panel demand, if taken at last year’s levels.
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Solar Energy Storage About To Take Off In Germany and California

Massive solar power plants are under construction in the desert and will soon be online. Solar panels adorn the roofs of a growing number of homes and commercial buildings. PG&E alone has 90,000 solar customers. Gov. Jerry Brown recently spoke at Intersolar, the solar trade show that met in San Francisco this month, and the state’s solar industry lobby is increasingly influential. Wind, on the other hand, has a much quieter presence in the Golden State.
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Short Interest in Solar Energy Companies Takes a Breather

Tipping Point Were approaching a tipping point and at some point in the future building integrated solar would be a must-have in the design of any new and significant building, said Mike Russell, managing director of Accentures utilities group in London . Solar technology has been installed onto the roof of the Pituacu Stadium in Brazil, as well as its locker room and parking canopies, as the nation prepares for the World Cup. Viaticus has invested in Dyesol Ltd. (DYE) , which makes dyes that mimic how plant leaves turn sunlight into energy. The dyes increase the efficiency of solar cells and provide a product thats highly desirable for all buildings, both new and refurbished, said Rezos. Dyesol is working with Tata Steel Ltd. (TATA) on ways of incorporating its technology into steel roofing products for industrial warehouses, said Richard Caldwell, its executive chairman. Pilkington Group Ltd., a glass maker, plans to integrate the technology into windows forming the sides of buildings, he said. Private Equity VantagePoint of San Bruno, California , and Scottish Equity Partners are backing the efforts of Solar Century Holdings Ltd.
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Is Georgia the next frontier for solar development?

(Not to mention that the champion of the plan was a conservative Commissioner named Lauren Bubba McDonald. If anyone can rally support for solar, Id like him to be named Bubba.) The common ground that this motley crew discovered is the remarkable business case for solar. Essentially, everyone recognized two key facts about electricity. First, prices historically have fluctuated. This probably will not change. In fact, it may get worse.Next, its unlikely that prices will decrease in the future. Old, inadequately controlled coal plants will need to make capital expenditures in order to meet new federal air pollution standards. This could lead to rate increases. As one of the commissioners put it (PDF) ,Commissioner McDonald’s motion adding 525 megawatts of solar to our 20-year energy plan is a hedge against more coal regulation and natural gas price volatility.
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Winter Park will go (a little) green with solar power facility

This rendering from solar company Clean Footprint gives an idea of how its solar canopy in Winter Park will look. The 4.4-acre structure on city-owned land will go up starting later this year. Solar-generated power should begin flowing to city utility customers in early 2014.

LDK Solar Co. Inc. ( LDK ) saw short interest fall by 6.1% to 3.55 million shares. Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. ( STP ) showed a rise of 0.6% in short interest, to 16.72 million shares.
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California is a leader in solar power

TOPICS electricity production and distribution To harness solar power to meet the energy demands of Delhi Secretariat, the Government will soon identify a piece of land nearby to set up a 5 MW solar power generation unit. The decision was taken following a meeting between Union New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday. He requested Ms. Dikshit to consider setting up a unit to service the power needs of the Secretariat, where the peak demand at present remains around 2.5 MW. Responding to the proposal, Ms. Dikshit said her government is keen on harnessing solar power, which is clean and green, as its generation process is pollution-free and assured him that her government will soon identify a piece of land for the Union Ministry to start work on the project.
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Foster’s Solar-Skinned Buildings Signal Market Tripling: Energy

Volvo Invents a Solar Panel That Unfurls From the Car Trunk

Joseph Flaherty

BASF SE (BAS) also is developing products for the market. The Santa Clara football stadium near San Francisco will have three solar-array covered bridges, with a solar canopy built over a roof terrace, generating their own power. Tipping Point Were approaching a tipping point and at some point in the future building integrated solar would be a must-have in the design of any new and significant building, said Mike Russell, managing director of Accentures utilities group in London. Solar technology has been installed onto the roof of the Pituacu Stadium in Brazil, as well as its locker room and parking canopies, as the nation prepares for the World Cup. Viaticus has invested in Dyesol Ltd. (DYE), which makes dyes that mimic how plant leaves turn sunlight into energy.
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But trees aren’t the only way to keep a building cooler. Solar panels, when mounted on a roof, also provide valuable shade on top of generating clean electricity. Researchers at the University of California San Diego decided to have a closer look at the panels’ cooling effect to see how big it is and what kind of panel orientation provides the biggest benefits: “Using thermal imaging, researchers determined that during the day, a buildings ceiling was 5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler under solar panels than under an exposed roof.” UCSD the amount saved on cooling the building amounted to getting a 5 percent discount on the solar panels price, over the panels lifetime. Or to put it another way, savings in cooling costs amounted to selling 5 percent more solar energy to the grid than the panels are actually producing for the building researchers studied. […] Rather than the sun beating down onto the roof, which causes heat to be pushed through the roof and inside the ceiling of the building, photovoltaic panels take the solar beating. Then much of the heat is removed by wind blowing between the panels and the roof. The benefits are greater if there is an open gap where air can circulate between the building and the solar panel, so tilted panels provide more cooling. Also, the more efficient the solar panels, the bigger the cooling effect, said Kleissl. For the building researchers analyzed, the panels reduced the amount of heat reaching the roof by about 38 percent. ( source ) Of course, solar panels aren’t as effective as reflective roof membranes/paints/materials , but nothing prevents people from combining the two technologies, and it’s good to know that solar panels provide this side benefit that has been rather overlooked so far.
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Solar-Powered Cars Hit The Racetrack

Last year, a solar-powered boat sailed all the way around the globe for the first time. A few weeks ago, a solar-powered plane completed a trip across the country. ROGER DUNCAN: We’re really not looking at solar as a mass transit option. HENRY: Roger Duncan is a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin. He says right now, solar-powered cars, planes and boats are really only good for transporting a single passenger. That’s because the bigger the vehicle, the heavier. It’s difficult to move heavy weights using solar energy directly. DUNCAN: However, we need to understand that solar power occurs in many different forms. In fact, the electric vehicles that are starting to be purchased around the county – and I own a plug-in hybrid vehicle – can indeed be powered by solar. HENRY: He sees a future where there are solar panels everywhere – but they’re feeding power into the electric grid, and then into lots of cars.
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Forget solar panels, here come building-integrated photovoltaics

Bloomberg reports on the rapid growth in building-integrated photovoltaics, or BIPV. These are solar powerharvesting cells that are incorporated into the walls, roofs, and windows of buildings integrated seamlessly instead of being bolted onto a finished building as an apparent afterthought: From stadiums in Brazil to a bank headquarters in Britain, architects led by Norman Foster are integrating solar cells into the skin of buildings, helping the market for the technology triple within two years. The market for solar laid onto buildings and into building materials is expected to grow to $7.5 billion by 2015 from about $2.1 billion, according to Accenture Plc, citing research from NanoMarkets. Sales of solar glass are expected to reach as much as $4.2 billion by 2015, with walls integrating solar cells at $830 million. About $1.5 billion is expected to be generated from solar tiles and shingles. The technology provides a respite for solar manufacturers, opening the way for them to charge a premium for products. Traditional solar panel prices have fallen 90 percent since 2008 due to oversupply, cutting margins and pushing more than 30 companies including Q-Cells SE and a unit of Suntech Power Holdings Co. into bankruptcy. The industry is already well established in the U.S., where Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), the countrys largest chemical maker by sales, is selling in more than a dozen states solar shingles that look like regular roofing material.
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Bonus: Solar panels help keep buildings cool, reducing A/C needs

Volvo is famous for favoring safety over style, making the selection of Synthesis Design + Architecture, best known for its sweeping, sci-fi inspired solutions, a bit of a surprise. The solar-powered pavilion is a stunning showcase for its new hybrid electric V60 model, and the parabolic platform is intended to highlight the sedate sedans impressive technological innovations at marketing events while charging it up for the ride to the next city. Algorithms efficiently configure the materials into visually striking structures. Unlike many green design projects that tack on aesthetics like an aftermarket body kit, Synthesis was driven by them. Synthesis principal and USC professor Alvin Huang has been a long time researcher of dynamic mesh relaxationa design approach pioneered by Frei Otto and amplified by computer science that is focused on the physical properties of dynamic materials and efficiently configuring them into complex, visually striking structures. The design process involved digital and analog techniquesdigital tools allowed for quick explorations of designs while physical models acted as proof of concepts for the carbon fiber frame, mesh surface, and artfully placed solar panels. The combination of the two styles of design equipped the team with an intuitive sense for what works to develop an attractive form that could stand up to the rigors of use in the field. The iterative exchange between the parallel digital and analog models allowed us to further refine design technique, and perhaps more importantly, design intuition, in terms of achieving desired effects. says Huang. While the aesthetics are fresh, the design principles were pioneered by German architect Frei Otto back in the 1960s and 70s.
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UC San Diego Demonstrates How Solar Panels Help Beat the Heat

solar panel cooling powell roof thermal and photo

In a study in an upcoming issue of the journal Solar Energy, Kleissl and his team published what they believe are the first peer-reviewed measurements of the cooling benefits provided by solar photovoltaic panels. Using thermal imaging, researchers determined that during the day, a buildingas ceiling was 5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler under solar panels than under an exposed roof. At night, the panels help hold heat in, reducing heating costs in the winter. aTalk about positive side-effects,a said Kleissl. As solar panels sprout on an increasing number of residential and commercial roofs, it becomes more important to consider their impact on buildingsa total energy costs, Kleissl said. His team determined that the amount saved on cooling the building amounted to getting a 5 percent discount on the solar panelsa price, over the panelsa lifetime. Or to put it another way, savings in cooling costs amounted to selling 5 percent more solar energy to the grid than the panels are actually producinga for the building researchers studied. Of course, the report concedes, solar panels arent the single most effective way of reducing the impact of the sun on your power bill.
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